My first waking thought on Saturday morning was a bad word directed specifically at my alarm clock. This is normal. However, the stabbing sensation behind my left eardrum was not. It seemed that the earache I’d been blurring out of my mind all week with over-the-counter painkillers and an unhealthy dose of denial was not taking no for an answer.
Spasms of pain radiated down my jawline and rear-ended each other in my tongue, which reacted to the trauma by playing dead. “Ah ink ah eeb a ahcker,” I beseeched Dan in the loudest whisper I could manage. “What’s that?” he asked, but by then, my swallow reflex had forced my throat to move, and I was busy crying. (Side note: Do you know how often our bodies swallow by instinct? I discovered thanks to the rusty jackhammer in my ear canal that it happens approximately 500 times a minute and that the more you concentrate on not swallowing, the more you feel compelled to. It’s like the yawn’s more addictive big brother.)
Through an attractive mix of tongue pantomime and bleating noises, I managed to communicate that I needed to see a doctor, and two hours later, I was hopped up on antibiotics and antihistamines and anti-inflammatories to the extent that I was finally able to drink my morning coffee. For lunch.
A few weeks ago, a sweet older lady at our church asked us if we still lived here, and I found myself explaining that while we are still living our normal weekday lives here, the weekends tend to find at least one of us sick. If it’s not two-day bronchitis, it’s a two-day flu, and if it isn’t the flu, it’s a two-day head cold, and if it’s not a head cold, it’s a two-day fever, and if it isn’t a fever, it’s a two-day adult onset ear infection. The Sickness Du Jour strikes on Saturday morning, lingers in our system through Sunday evening, and then vanishes by the time Monday morning dawns.
I know, it doesn’t sound credible to me either. If I hadn’t been the one lying around the house in various stages of facial distress all weekend, I would have thought we were trying to worm our way out of various social plans or at least our Saturday chores.
I have a theory about this though. I think our bodies notice how we push them so hard throughout the week—how we keep them up too late and strain them with long working hours and make them do horrible things like vacuuming and kettlebells—and I think they store up every molecule of fatigue for the moment of least resistance. They know we need a break, so they take it upon themselves to schedule one for us.
It’s crazy annoying, but I get the point. On the rare weekend in which nobody is bedridden, I pack every free minute with errands and home improvement projects. I don’t go to bed any more willingly now than I did as a five-year-old, and I guess a body’s got to do what a body’s got to do to get some rest. Multiply that by four family members, and we’re lucky we ever make it to church.
As much as I’d like to live by the mind-over-body principle and schedule my own sicknesses thankyouverymuch, my irritation at these mandatory time-outs softens when I consider how I would feel if they hit mid-week. Our bodies are doing the best with what they’ve got, and I really do appreciate their consideration in waiting for the weekend to break down. Even if it does mean sweet older ladies at church think we’ve left the country.
How does your body channel fatigue? Is weekend sickness A Thing, or is it just us?